In this edition of 100 Days, 100 Detroit Lions, we honor a Pro Bowl QB who took a lot of gas and a lot of hits for a decade at Tiger Stadium and the Silverdome.
81. Greg Landry
Quarterback. 1968-78 Detroit; 1979-81 Baltimore Colts; 1984 Chicago Bears
Since 1957 when Bobby Layne was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lion franchise has been searching for someone to fill the Texan’s championship cleats. The signal caller who has come nearest to doing so was Greg Landry. Landry had a rocky start in Motown after being selected in the first-round of the 1968 draft. Injuries and inexperience would cause the 6-foot-4, 210 pounder from the University of Massachusetts to produce a touchdown to interception ratio of 6-to-17 during his first two seasons while sharing time with veteran Bill Munson.
Than in 1970, the young Landry would lead the Lions down the stretch and into the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons. He would complete 83 of his 136 attempts (61%), for 1,072 yards and 9 touchdowns. His 1970 passer rating of 92.5 would be the best of his career. The Lions’ run to the postseason would end in disappointment however. In a mistake filled game, which neither team seemed to want, the Lions fell on the road to the Dallas Cowboys 5-0.
By 1971, Landry had claimed the quarterback spot as his own. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl that season, throwing for 2,237 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for another 524 yards and 9 scores. He had another solid year in ‘72, then the injury bug would hit hard. From 1973-75, Landry would play in only 18 of 42 games due to various injuries. In 1976, a healthy Landry would comeback to post his best season since 1971, throwing for 2,191 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Landry would struggle the next year however, leading the team to a disappointing 5-7 record before being replaced by a youngster named Gary Danielson in Week 13. Landry would back up Danielson for one season, before being traded to the Baltimore Colts in April of 1979 for three future draft choices.
Landry ranks third on the Lions’ career list, behind only Bobby Layne and Scott Mitchell, in passing yardage (12,451), attempts (1,747), and completions (957). He ranks behind only Layne in career touchdown passes with 80. Amazingly, Greg Landry remains the only one of two Lion quarterbacks since Layne in 1956 to be selected to the Pro Bowl.